Wednesday, December 07, 2011


It seems that SOA continues to delight and frustrate critics/reviewers/bloggers/guys-that-haven't-been-laid-since-911.  As you can imagine, that fact also delights and frustrates me.  Time after time, reviewers will complain that Sons always flirts with greatness, yet never achieves it.  It lays the track to perfection, but always derails.  Perhaps.  In some ways, I guess it parallels it's creator.  I'm a half-smart guy with a flare for the absurd, but I'm more than a few runways short of brilliant.  But, self-deprecation aside, I think the bigger issue is a lack of understanding of what the show really is.  And that isn't to say that critics are stupid.  Some are.  Most aren't.  But a lot of critics don't seem to understand what I'm trying to do season after season.  It's like going to see a Summer blockbuster movie and being disappointed because it's not as complex as the Godfather.  

Some critics get it.  Ken Tucker, Matt Zoller Seitz revel in the giddy truth.  Sepinwall and others continue to bang their heads against a wall, applying a level of analysis that is best reserved for a David Simon show.  The Wire, we ain't, nor do we aspire to be.  For the record, SOA is an adrenalized soap opera, it's bloody pulp fiction with highly complex characters.  Often, I think the depth of the characters, the emotionality of the writing and the amazing performances is what confuses critics.  Those qualities put the show on par with other great dramas.  But then I'll go and cut the balls off a clown or turn a plot point absurdly upside down and I will most certainly blow something the fuck up.  It's those things that drive critics crazy.  Why can't I just stay the course.  Be what they want me to be -- measured and predictable.

So why don't I do that?  Why lean so heavily on the pulp?  Maybe this backstory will shed some light: When John Landgraf wanted to move ahead with SOA, he went to his then boss, Peter Chernin, and told him he was going to greenlight the show.  Chernin told him it was a mistake.  No one would watch a show about a bunch of dirtbag bikers.  He thought it was a nasty, unpleasant world.  But Landgraf knew the operatic Hamlet approach of my pitch might be able to avoid the ugly, meth-reality and deliver the thematic attractiveness of the subculture.  Yes, the MC world can be a dark, brutal place.  It doesn't have the glamor of the Mafia or the urban sway of street gangs.  Chernin was right, a straight up drama, no matter how well done, wouldn't have lasted more than a season.  I knew instinctively, as did John Landgraf, that dark humor and pulp operatic storytelling would be the best way to open up this world to viewers.  That to balance the danger and brutality of the world, the show needed to be entertaining and, dare I say, fun.  The truth is, I have a very healthy ego.  I have no desire to run a show that only a few hundred thousand people watch.  I'll go do theatre if I want an audience that size.  My challenge as a showrunner, season after season, is to balance art and commerce.  How do I keep the show rich, complex and authentic and yet entertain the fuck out of people?  It sounds easy, but it's not.  Trust me, it would be much easier to write a straight ahead drama to please the critics.  You guys are easy.  But I'm not writing the show to convince people how brilliant I am.  I'm writing it to excite, thrill and engage an audience.  And I can only hope that my talent as an artist and producer shine through.

Clearly, sometimes it doesn't.  As I look at the WGA Award nominees this morning, I realize the thing that frustrates critics is probably the same thing that keeps us an arms-length away from awards.  I'd confidently put the quality of our writing, acting and directing up against any other show.  But the pulp, entertaining nature of Sons will always keep us a few rungs down the ladder from the obvious choices.  Or maybe we just suck and I'm delusional.  That's very possible.  

Anyway, I'll keep writing the show the way I always have and hopefully the audience will continue to show up.  And the critics will lament how imperfect and frustrating the show is to watch and yet they'll continue to watch it and write about it, week after week, after week, after week... it's almost as if they're being entertained.

I was going to tag this entry by calling them all cunts, but maybe that's a little harsh. 


Monday, November 28, 2011



My use of the C-word seems to be a very polarizing semantic choice.  People either rally to the call of brashness or condemn me for rude literary ineptitude.  Quite honestly it seems to baffle most folks who know me.  Well.  My wife included.  She knows I don't move through the world with a boorish sexist swagger, so my liberal "cunting" rubs her confused. 

Before I defend my "cunt point" I need to speak to a larger thematic issue -- my theory about how the media and social guilt increase the power of slurs.  Not so much a theory, just a half-bright opinion.   

And forgive me for doing a brief cursory explanation of this idea.  It's a much larger, complex discussion, but this is a blog and I know if I post more than a page or two no one will read it.  If anyone wants to discuss the issue in greater detail, I'd be happy to do so. Well, maybe not happy, but obligated.

There are some words in the English language that we continue to empower as evil.  Not that their origins aren't sinister or meaningful, but society's obsession for public condemnation and censorship has given these words power beyond their negative roots.  The word "nigger" began as a harsh, ignorant term used by white slave owners that over time became a racial slur with brutal weight.  This is the quick historical from Wikipedia:

In the Colonial America of 1619, John Rolfe used "negars" in describing the African slaves shipped to the Virginia colony.[5] Later American English spellings, neger and neggar, prevailed in a northern colony, New York under the Dutch, and in metropolitan Philadelphia’s Moravian and Pennsylvania Dutch communities; the African Burial Ground in New York City originally was known by the Dutch name "Begraafplaats van de Neger" (Cemetery of the Negro); an early US occurrence of neger in Rhode Island, dates from 1625.[6] An alternative word for African Americans was the English word, "Black", used by Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on the State of Virginia. Among Anglophones, the word nigger was not always considered derogatory, because it then denoted “black-skinned”, a common Anglophone usage.[7] Nineteenth-century English (language) literature features usages of nigger without racist connotation, e.g. the Joseph Conrad novella The Nigger of the 'Narcissus' (1897). Moreover, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain created characters who used the word as contemporary usage. Twain, in the autobiographic book Life on the Mississippi (1883), used the term within quotes, indicating reported usage, but used the term "negro" when speaking in his own narrative persona.[8]

In the United Kingdom and the Anglophone world, nigger denoted the dark-skinned (non-white) African and Asian (i.e., from
India or nearby) peoples colonized into the British Empire, and "dark-skinned foreigners" — in general. 

By the 1900s, nigger had become a pejorative word. In its stead, the term
colored became the mainstream alternative to negro and its derived terms. Abolitionists in Boston, Massachusetts, posted warnings to the Colored People of Boston and vicinity. Writing in 1904, journalist Clifton Johnson documented the "opprobrious" character of the word nigger, emphasizing that it was chosen in the South precisely because it was more offensive than "colored."[9] Established as mainstream American English usage, the word colored features in the organizational title of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, reflecting the members’ racial identity preference at the 1909 foundation. In the Southern United States, the local American English dialect changes the pronunciation of negro to nigra. Linguistically, in developing American English, in the early editions of A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language (1806), lexicographer Noah Webster suggested the neger new spelling in place of negro.[10]
By the 1980's the wave of political correctness began to taint every form of art and media.  It wasn't just the black groups that were condemning the hateful n-word; it was white corporate America as well.  That's what took it from a racial slur to a political and social pariah.  I believe it was the "white guilt" of the men controlling the media machine that continued to give that word more power and hate.  Follow me here -- it was like the white guys got together and said, "Let's really make it a point to condemn whitey for using racial slurs.  If we do that, then maybe we can somehow wash away years of racial injustice to the black community."  But I believe that heightened, righteous correctness just handed the racists more ammunition.  Because the higher the crime for usage became, the more the ignorant used it.  Our semantic judgment just loaded the hate canons.  

Does that make sense?  I don't know, maybe not.  Always felt that way to me.  

I think the answer to that increased hate and awareness came in the form of Hip Hop's bastardization -- "nigga".  Suddenly there was a word that black people could liberally call other black people without pushing racial buttons.  Yes, it also allowed annoying white dudes the same option (although not without impunity).  I know there are black people who are as offended by the "ga" as the "ger", but I think consciously or unconsciously it was the African American community diffusing the hate.  Basically saying, "we're taking this word back, making it our own so you motherfuckers can't hurt us with it."  Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm a delusional white guy, but I feel like Hip Hop has diminished the racial weight of "nigger".  I'm not saying it's not still a racist, painful slur, I'm just saying it's lost some of it's power.  Which is a good thing.

The other word that's jumped into the "never use it in public" category is "fag".  I'm not proud of this, but the truth is, where I grew up in Jersey, "fag" was a fucking noun, verb, adjective and adverb.  We used it constantly and it had nothing to do with sexuality.  A fag was a punk or a pussy.  A fag was the guy who left the game in the fourth inning to go do homework.  A fag was a guy who wouldn't steal his parent's smokes for his buddies.  I was using the word fag long before I even knew what a homosexual was.  I'm not saying that makes it okay, just saying the evolution of this semantic curve is more personal.  I never used the word "nigger", now or as a kid, but "fag", man, it was everywhere.  Wiki gives this quick historical glimpse.   

The word meaning "bundle of sticks" is ultimately derived, via Old French, Italian and Vulgar Latin, from Latin fascis (also the origin of the word fascism).[4] The origins of the word as an offensive epithet for homosexuals are, however, rather obscure, although the word has been used in English since the late 16th century as an abusive term for women, particularly old women,[5] and reference to homosexuality may derive from this,[4][6] female terms being often used with reference to homosexual or effeminate men (cf. nancy, sissy, queen). The application of the term to old women is possibly a shortening of the term "faggot-gatherer", applied in the 19th century to people, especially older widows, who made a meagre living by gathering and selling firewood.[6] It may also derive from the sense of "something awkward to be carried" (compare the use of the word "baggage" as a pejorative term for old people in general).[4] Use of the word as a general insult, not necessarily implying homosexuality, is either a continuation or extension of this older usage[5] or of the homosexual usage.
Unsubstantiated Associations

It is sometimes claimed that the modern slang meaning developed from the standard meaning of "faggot" as "bundle of sticks for burning," presumably with reference to
burning at the stake.[4] This is, however, unlikely to be the case,[4] and there is no tradition of burning at the stake being used as a punishment for homosexuality in Britain,[6] However, the Theodosian Code, which was influential in the development of medieval law, does prescribe burning: "All persons who have the shameful custom of condemning a man's body, acting the part of a woman's to the sufferance of alien sex (for they appear not to be different from women), shall expiate a crime of this kind in avenging flames in the sight of the people."[7] Although supposed witches and heretics were burnt to death in other parts of Europe, and were often accused of deviant sexual behaviour.[8]

Yiddish word faygele, lit. "little bird", is also claimed by some as an explanation for the modern use of "faggot." The similarity between the two words makes it a reasonable possibility that it might at least have had a reinforcing effect.[6]

An obsolete reference to faggot from 17th century Britain refers to a "man hired into military service simply to fill out the ranks at
muster", but there is no known connection with the word's modern pejorative usage.[4]

Louie CK did a great episode on the evolution of the word "fag".  Basically discussing my point above and the truth about why the word is so painful to the gay community.  It was really smart and effective.  As an adult, I embrace that concept and understand the hate behind the word.  The fact that right wing Christian groups defend the use of it is reason enough not to ever use it again.  But my theory of the media and social guilt increasing the hate holds true for the f-word as well.  Every time someone gets caught using that word, we headline it, hold it up for persecution and give it more weight.  Again, we load the hate canons.  Instead of giving these assholes media coverage, we should be diffusing the power, mocking the ignorant, finding a way to take the sting out of the word.  "Fag" needs a "nigga".  

Basically, it's this -- when my four-year-old uses a bad word, I don't give it any weight.  The experts say, you just calmly reply, "we don't use that word because it's rude", and move on.  When she sees that the word gets no buzz, she moves off of it.  If I yell at her, call attention to the behavior and make a fuss over the word, it reinforces her knowledge that the word has power.  She will definitely use it again.  Now I know that's an incredibly simplistic point of view that can hardly be applied to words that have social and historical weight, but there is truth in that basic concept -- that the media and our own social guilt continue to reinforce the negative by giving it so much fucking attention.

Which brings me back around to my "cunt".  One of the few nasty words left in the English language that does not have a "league" condemning its use.  Yes, women find it offensive and I'm sure at some point a feminist organization will adopt it as a cause.  But until then, it's a word that makes people incredibly uncomfortable without sounding a social or media alarm.  It's percussive, aggressive and just feels wrong.  So why do I use it so freely?  To make a point.  It's my personal quest to diffuse the power of "cunt".  If I use it frequently and in such absurd context, just maybe it will begin to lose its weight (I think it already has in this blog and on my Twitter feed).  Fuck, fly, shit, eager, cunt, banana, sky, yo-yo.  Just a bunch of words.  

So that's why.  We are the ones who turn letters into sounds, sounds into hate, hate into headlines.  We create the cycle of animosity and violence.   

Cunt.  It's slang for vagina.  It begins with a hard-c.  It rhymes with punt, stunt and front.  Use it lovingly, "that flower is opening up like a beautiful crimson cunt."  Use it with edge, "that little fucking cunt just cut me off."  Use it absurdly, "there's a certain oaky cuntiness to this Merlot."  Use it frequently.  And when someone balks or is morally offended, tell them it's just a fucking word, lifted from a whore street in Old London and first used in print by James Joyce.  Then gaze at them with judgmental disdain and tell them perhaps they're the ones who need a morality check.  Cunts.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Today I give thanks for --

A god of my understanding.
A universe that bends towards love no matter how much evil pushes back.
A sober being.
The love of my family.
Especially Katey.  She is a light.
Especially my kids.  They force me out of the darkness.
My talent.
My job.
My friends.
My health.
All the people who tolerate my plethora of defects.
My enemies for keeping my edge sharp.
My disdain for injustice.
My love of the absurd.
The music I hear.

Make a gratitude list, share it with someone you love.  Or better yet, someone you fucking hate. 

Enjoy your holiday.  I love you.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I've shared my disdain for television bloggers in the past, but I thought I'd take a moment to explain in more detail the reason for my frustration.  

     To come clean, I didn't read any episodic reviews all season.  Then FX sent me a few links about episode 410.  I read them.  I got seduced by the praise and began reading more.  My personality is not inclined toward moderation, so I fucking binged.  Soon I was overwhelmed and reminded of why I stopped reading them in first place.  Hence, this blog post is more to remind me of why I need to detach.

As we know, most TV reviewers get paid or are sustained by the number of hits their site receives.  It's all about numbers.  Quantity, not quality.  So they review hundreds of episodes of television a week.  Literally.  They are forced to power through these hours and give quick, reactive reviews that vary from godlike praise to utter disdain.  Most are uneven, unthoughtful and completely miss the point.  Even smart people like Mo Ryan are cranking out quick, mediocre reviews that are way beneath what she is capable of as a journalist.  That's why I read Poniewozik and Goodman.  If they don't have time for a thoughtful review, they pass.  Now I realize the conditions of their jobs give them that luxury, but I guess that's my point.  The conditions are cunty. 

But the fault isn't with the reviewer, it's with the process. More, more, more, faster, faster, faster. Online journalism demands instant, catchy coverage. There is no time for in-depth, thought-provoking process. It's all flash, snark and a catchy headline. Alan Sepinwall and his uber-hokey, "A review of tonight's episode coming up as soon as I (insert contrived episodic joke at the expense of someone's performance)..." is testament to the fact that it's no longer about the art of critique, it's about being clever and memorable.  It's incredibly frustrating for the artists who do put the thought, time and care into their work to be judged by such an inept process.  

And I use this opportunity, when a majority of SOA reviews are good, to make the point -- so I don't look like a douchebag writer scorned.  It's a fucked up process.  The relationship between artist and critic is ancient.  They need each other.  But it only works if both parties are committed to the integrity of their jobs.  If not, it's just a bullshit cuntfest.

Monday, November 07, 2011


I wrote this blog some sixteen months ago.  In light of her continuous spiral downward, I thought I'd post it again.  To no end, I'm sure.  Maybe it's just to relieve my guilt for not being more proactive in my own recovery.  Mostly it's my innate sense that very soon, Lindsay Lohan will be dead.  And that makes me sad.

Dear Lindsay,

I do not know you.  I could never imagine what it's like being in your shoes.  Your childhood, your career, your relationships, your alleged dysfunction -- I do not know the truth.  All I have is the information reported to me by the media.  The bulk of that media are despicable whores who prey on the indiscretions and weaknesses of celebrity vulnerability.  If I could slice their fucking heads off and not be incarcerated, I'd be sharpening the blade right now.  I have immense compassion for your plight.  The scrutiny, the unrelenting exposé that has become your life is inconceivable.  The readers of those rags have no idea who you are and the depth of your struggle.  They soak up the hype, the sound bites and the titillating j-pegs like fat junkie cows.  As Louis C.K. says in one of his routines -- I have to stop doing everything because I need my whole fucking body to hate them.  

Slicing through the media fiction, I try to find the truth behind the noise.  This is what I see -- a young woman who has perhaps lost sight of her gift and it's purpose.  You are a very talented girl.  As a child, you revealed a skill that few achieve at any age.  It's no wonder that all those around you exploited that opportunity.  You shined, you were/are a star.  I'm not sure what happened.  Maybe you never got an opportunity to be a child.  The Hollywood landscape is littered with ex-child stars who have crashed and burned.  I know that's why Katey and I have a very firm rule: None of our kids can work professionally until AFTER they finish college.  Children need the real world to create real perspective.  You need life to develop life skills.

If you are reading this, perhaps this is where you'll stop, because now I speak to your part in all of this.  The truth is, it doesn't matter what happened in the past.  Today, you are an adult.  With that comes the responsibility of not only your personal life but of your career as well.  Talent is a rare commodity.  We are paid a lot of money to share that gift.  Sometimes we lose perspective, I know I do.  I become covetous of my gift, it spins me inward and I feel like everyone is trying to rip it out of my hands.  I grow angry and discontent.  I want them to just leave me the fuck alone.  That usually means I need sleep and to share the noise in my head with like-minded folks.  Ultimately, when my head clears, I am brought to a place of gratitude.  I think it was Warren Beatty who said that success is when you get paid lots of money for something you would gladly do for free.  That's how I feel.  I'm guessing, there is a part of you that feels the same way.  That in the moment, when you are connected in a scene with another actor, there is an indescribable joy that happens.  It's called being an artist and with it comes responsibility. 

It may not feel like it now, but the jail time you are about to serve is a blessing.  It's concrete proof that you are a member of a real community, of something bigger than the insular fucked-up Hollywood bubble you've been living in.  You have a chance to use this time for reflection and growth.  When I see that you or members of your "team" are selling TV rights to your pre and post jail time, I fear that you have lost sight of the opportunity that lies before you.  

If you do indeed have a compulsive relationship with drugs and alcohol, this is time to address it.  This is the time to look at the potential of the wonderful life that lies ahead.  There is only one thing I know for sure.  I promise you that this is the truth -- if you stay on the path you are now, if you don't experience some kind of psychic shift, if you don't dig deep and tap into some humility, you will die.  Very soon.  That may sound dramatic and like a bad PSA, but sadly, it's the truth, darling.  You will be dead before you turn 30.  And it will be ugly and sordid and it will line the pockets of the sycophants that plague you.

I look at Robert Downey, whom many thought would never pull himself out of the bottomless crack he fell into.  His incarceration became the event that allowed him to find his humility.  Like you, his talent was immense and when he showed up to play, clean, sober, grateful, he was embraced and gladly given another chance.  His star has been on an upward trajectory ever since.

I realize this post has turned into a bit of lecture and I apologize for that.  I'm sure I'll get bitch-slapped by the blogosphere for my arrogance.  But Lindsay, just know that I speak from experience.  I'm very candid about my own sobriety.  Not using drugs and alcohol a day at a time is the only fucking perfect thing I've done in the last 18 years.  Every good thing in my life -- let me say that again -- every good thing in my life -- is a result of working a program of recovery. 

I wish you well.  I wish you life.


Kurt Sutter

Monday, October 24, 2011

Friday, October 07, 2011


I feel like the glass is half empty and the other half is filled with pus-soaked man shit.  It usually happens this time of year -- I'm sleep-deprived, malnourished, overstimulated, under-exercised and hypersensitive. My plate is full and the more I devour, the more "do this" gets spiked onto my fork. I know, it's part of the job people would kill for and I'm comfortably rewarded for my efforts, but it still doesn't change the experience. I'm incredibly fragile. When I hear about interweb cunts complaining about episodes or actors grumbling about scripts or studio bottom-line woes, I can't process it. I want to load my fucking proverbial shotgun, put on my designer trench-coat and reduce every fucking living thing to sprinkles and confetti.  

Then vacuum it up.  My OCD.  

But I don't. For the most part, I live in a constant state of restraint.  Pen, tongue, fists.  Twitter is most my most egregious outlet these days.  And how much damage can a guy do in 140 characters?  

Anyway, I tremendously hate everything and everyone in this moment.  Except my wife and kids, I hate them a little less.  I'm knuckling down, scrambling to finish a hundred other things so I can focus on prepping 413 -- which I start directing next week.  Directing always seems like a good idea in March.  October, not so much.  I'm sure we will finish as strongly as we started.  I'm smart enough to surround myself with people who wouldn't let me fuck it up even if I wanted to.

Which I don't. 

Wow, the coyotes are howling like mad outside my home office.  I think they just killed my neighbor's dog.  That makes me feel a little better.  I don't really like that dog.  


Saturday, September 24, 2011



There seems to be some confusion about Juice's discomfort and fear regarding the discovery of his black father.  This is a racial reality in outlaw motorcycle clubs.  We've  touched on the issue lightly over the first three seasons of SOA.  The fact is that most of the bigger MC's do not have African American members.  There are black clubs and there are white (Caucasian, Latino, Asian) clubs.  Most live in harmony.  HA and the East Bay Dragons have been friends for decades.  That relationship inspired the Grim Bastards in season 3.  We delve into the delicate why's and how's of this racial bi-law later in the season, but it was one of those odd, historical barriers that I've wanted to explore.  It's a throwback to a different era that is still in practice today.  I can honestly say that none of the guys I know in the life are racist, yet they function within a structure that is built upon a form of segregation.  To me, that's fascinating and fertile story turf.  The depth and weight of this rule varies from club to club and this season we see how it's handled by the Sons of Anarchy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Keeping my word on the promise I made in my entry SEASON 4 PREMIER CHALLENGE/PROMISE, I have chosen the winners.  My selection process was not arbitrary or random.  It was not a raffle.  It was an opportunity to give something back to the fans.  Even though I'm choosing only two, I hope folks understand that this is my way of thanking you all.  I went back to season one and looked at fan input, dedication and general enthusiasm.  It was a tough choice, because SOA fans are all incredibly devoted.  But here's where I landed --

Myra Lowe, Lowecat on Twitter and Sutterink Blog.  Hails from Indianapolis, Indiana.  
Why: Because she and her motorcycle, Tig, have been followers since day one.  Myra is responsible for shutting down more pirate DVD sellers on e-Bay than Fox.  Her upbeat, go-get-'em spirit has always felt like good energy to me.  

Mark Mitteer, Twisted_Shadow on Facebook, Sutterink Blog and Twitter.  Hails from Little Rock, Arkansas. 
Why: Mark has also been a dedicated follower since day one.  He is responsible for a good chunk of my followers on Facebook and Twitter.  His near-harassment approach to alerting folks of the joys of SOA is something that amazes and frightens me.  Part of me is curious just to see who this guy is.  

Barring a vetting out by Fox security, Mark and Myra and one spouse/guest will be joining me for a screening of a season 4 episode.  Still working out the details of when and where, but I will fly them out, put them up and entertain the fuck out of them.  We'll document it and keep you all plugged in.

Our SWAG BASKETS for our overseas friends go to:

The ever-loyal, Tina Lou of the UK.
Why: She's been our biggest fan since day one.  She created and runs  

And Julen Cancerbero of Spain.
Why: Because I like saying his name.

I'll have someone in my office reach out to the winners this week. Thank you all for your dedication and you know if I was Rupert, I'd fly you all out for a screening.  

Keep watching and I'll keep giving away free shit.